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Field Notes Blog


Growing Roots: ASA's Journey to Foster Community Connection with the Land
December 12, 2023
Growing Roots: ASA's Journey to Foster Community Connection with the Land

It was the spring of 2022 and ASA staff and volunteers had just spent two hours with the third grade from Cambridge Central School. We planned several interactive activities and good old-fashioned exploration at the Cambridge Community Forest. I was explaining to the students that this forest was their forest, too. One student asked, 'You mean we can come back here to visit?'

Although it was a simple question posed by a child, it had a profound impact on me. This introduction to ASA’s first community forest project was a success in my eyes with that one child who clearly started to form a connection to this working landscape. However, how many other children in our service area are missing out on opportunities to explore nature in a safe, welcoming way? Time spent on a farm or exploring woodlands is something many of us probably remember fondly from our youth. This is increasingly not the norm for today’s children either due to a lack of opportunity, access, or comfort level.

Fast forward a year and a half later, and ASA has created a community conservation and engagement plan because connecting people to the land is a part of our mission. This guidance document provides a framework for how ASA will approach community work going forward. It means our public outreach programming and community land projects should reflect community needs while providing an opportunity for us to connect with new people in new ways. ASA has always valued partnerships with other organizations and building relationships with landowners. However, we must also ensure we are responsive to the shared values and needs of the larger community.

Finding opportunities for people to connect with working lands will result in their appreciation of those lands. You only fight for what you value, and the next generation will be no different. We need everyone to see the value of the irreplaceable productive farmland and woodlands of Washington and Rensselaer counties. So, I was delighted to answer the student, 'Absolutely, from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year!'

Together in conservation,


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